What’s Happening at the 4th Edition of Los Cabos International Film Festival
November 14, 2015 – Three days in, it’s hard to view the 4th annual Los Cabos International Film Festival as anything but a rousing success. At the very least, it’s the most ambitious and professionally managed event since the inaugural outing in 2012.
This year’s international star power–from Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor to Jared Leto, Ian McShane and Cyndi Lauper–compares favorably with 2012, when Edward Norton, Matt Dillon and Virginia Madsen were the biggest draws.
The quality of the screenings is at an all-time high, thanks to some big budget Mexican and Latin American premieres, and the inclusion of standout films from earlier festivals in Cannes, Sundance, Venice, Berlin, Telluride and Toronto. And the addition of a new platform, Cabos TV, shines a light on some of the most creative work currently being done for networks, cable channels and online content providers like Netflix.
Over $480,000 U.S. in competition prizes and film services are being awarded this year, the highest amount in the short history of the event. Much of the money will be earmarked for projects in-development. The Cabos in Progress program, for example, helps films in the production stage, while the Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund supports Mexicans filmmakers during both the early and post-production stages of their projects.
Perhaps most importantly, industry participation–the festival’s primary purpose is to promote collaboration between the U.S., Canadian and Mexican film communities–is also at an all-time high.
A who’s who of international production companies and festivals sent representatives to Los Cabos this year, including Crosscreek Productions (USA), Management 360 (USA), Blackbear Pictures (USA), Participant Media (USA), The Weinstein Company (USA), Sundance TV (USA), Paramount Pictures (USA), Fox Searchlight (USA), HBO (USA), Miramax (USA), A24 (USA), Seville International (Canada), Serendipity Point Films (Canada), Fábrica de Cine (Mexico), Semaine de la Critique du Festival de Cannes (France), Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (France), Telluride Film Festival (USA), Tribeca Film Festival (USA), SXSW (USA), Québec Cinéma (Canada/Quebec), and Sarajevo Film Festival (Bosnia-Herzegovina).
Given this influx of high-profile visitors, it should come as no surprise that the festival is also doing a very good job in promoting the area as a world-class travel destination. Short commercials touting the charms of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo are being shown before every film screening, and VIP attendees are seeing plenty of local sights, as well as being wined and dined at some of the best area restaurants. Some lucky jury members, for instance, enjoyed breakfast in front of El Arco on a private luxury yacht, while Mexican Tourism Board members feasted on traditional specialties at Los Tres Gallos, the superb downtown restaurant named for three great stars of México’s Golden Age of Cinema.
The only real criticism that can be levied is at the condition of the primary sites. The Pabellón Cultural de la República is in bad shape following flooding from last year’s monster storm, Hurricane Odile, and only limited areas of the facility have been opened to the public for galas and screenings. And Puerto Paraíso’s wide-ranging array of repairs and renovations has been underway for the better part of two years. The Marina entrance to Cinemex theaters remains completely shut off. Visitors may only enter via inside escalators–apparently repaired solely for this event–and the stairs and elevator located near the ground floor bathrooms. And the elevator has already had technical issues.
But it’s a very impressive achievement overall, and festival director Alonso Aguilar-Castillo deserves plenty of credit for the stellar line-up of stars, films and affiliated events.
The five day film fête concludes on Sunday, so locals looking to catch at least one screening during this year’s edition have only two days left to do so.
There are still plenty of great options. Two films with Baja ties are showing today, Nov. 14, at Cinemex in Puerto Paraíso: Baja Taste, a documentary about Baja Med cuisine and the Tijuana culinary scene, screens from 12:30 to 1:40 p.m. in Theater 5; and El Ganzo, a feature film about two travelers who forge a connection while staying at Hotel El Ganzo in Puerto Los Cabos, begins at 4 p.m. in Theater 6.
Some highly anticipated big budget offerings are also on today’s docket. Black Mass, which showcases Johnny Depp as legendary Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, screens at 1:30 (it precedes El Ganzo in Theater 6, and thus offers excellent double feature potential). And Steve Jobs, the Danny Boyle directed biopic of the visionary Apple co-founder, follows the final red carpet gala, with the curtain scheduled to go up at 9 p.m. at the Pabellón Cultural de la República.
Ewan McGregor will provide a last burst of star power, when he accepts the Protagonist Award before the closing gala and Steve Jobs screening. The award comes with a statuette (look out Oscar!) designed by Mexican artist Gabriel Macotela, the creator of the evocative oversized cross that overlooks the Puerto Los Cabos development just outside San José del Cabo.
The Scottish actor–best known for his star turns in Trainspotting, Moulin Rouge, and Episodes I, II and III of the Star Wars Saga –will also be present for the screening of his latest film, Last Days in the Desert, in which he plays both Jesus and Satan. His director, México’s own Rodrigo García, will also be on hand to introduce the film, which will be shown at 4 p.m. in Cinemex Theater 5.
The big event tomorrow is a free outdoor screening of Baja Taste at 7 p.m. in San José del Cabo’s Plaza Mijares. Given the Baja focus and the fact that this will be the final film shown at this year’s festival, this promises to be a very special viewing experience in one of Los Cabos’ most beautiful and historically important locations.
For more information about tickets, screenings and scheduling, visit cabosfilmfestival.com.